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A snake-based scheme for path planning and control with constraints by distributed visual sensors

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 August 2013

Y. Cheng*
School of Engineering, Design and Technology, University of Bradford, Bradford BD7 1DP, UK
P. Jiang
Department of Computer Science, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, UK
Y. F. Hu
School of Engineering, Design and Technology, University of Bradford, Bradford BD7 1DP, UK
*Corresponding author. E-mail:
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This paper proposes a robot navigation scheme using wireless visual sensors deployed in an environment. Different from the conventional autonomous robot approaches, the scheme intends to relieve massive on-board information processing required by a robot to its environment so that a robot or a vehicle with less intelligence can exhibit sophisticated mobility. A three-state snake mechanism is developed for coordinating a series of sensors to form a reference path. Wireless visual sensors communicate internal forces with each other along the reference snake for dynamic adjustment, react to repulsive forces from obstacles, and activate a state change in the snake body from a flexible state to a rigid or even to a broken state due to kinematic or environmental constraints. A control snake is further proposed as a tracker of the reference path, taking into account the robot's non-holonomic constraint and limited steering power. A predictive control algorithm is developed to have an optimal velocity profile under robot dynamic constraints for the snake tracking. They together form a unified solution for robot navigation by distributed sensors to deal with the kinematic and dynamic constraints of a robot and to react to dynamic changes in advance. Simulations and experiments demonstrate the capability of a wireless sensor network to carry out low-level control activities for a vehicle.

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